5 Indianapolis Colts Veterans Who Could Be Camp Casualties
Football is not a kind game.
It is not nice. It is not without violence. It is dirty, messy and loud.
For veterans at training camp, it can be even more difficult than what we see on the field. For vets, age and experience eventually become a hindrance rather than a positive tick on their resume. At some point, the cost to carry such players on a roster is just too high for general managers.
Every team is trying to get younger, faster and cheaper. To do that, sometimes you have to make the difficult, messy choice to cut a veteran player. For Indianapolis, this won't be as easy as it sounds: Most of the Colts are not veterans, as general manager Ryan Grigson has put together a very young roster.
Regardless, we've found five vets with potential to be off the team come September.
All observations from training camp were observed first-hand by the reporter, unless otherwise noted.
QB Matt Hasselbeck
Michael Vick and Matt Moore.
Those are the two backup quarterbacks who have a higher cap hit than Matt Hasselbeck's $3.75 million in 2014, according to Spotrac.
Once again, we find ourselves looking at Hasselbeck with bewilderment over his cost to the Colts. The 38-year-old Hasselbeck is an experienced but quickly aging quarterback who will provide little for Indianapolis if starter Andrew Luck goes down. Similarly to 2011, if the Colts lose Luck, they're not winning anything. If Hasselbeck was cut, however, the Colts would save $2.25 million in 2014.
But, the Colts, for all intents and purposes, seem committed to Hasselbeck, and Chandler Harnish has done nothing to this point to win the job from him. Hasselbeck, at his price and age, should be a prime candidate to lose his job, but unless Harnish takes an unprecedented leap over the next three weeks, Hasselbeck will be a Colt in 2014.
Chance of being cut: 5%
DT Brandon McKinney
Brandon McKinney's inclusion shouldn't come as a shock to anybody. After being signed by Indianapolis during the 2012 offseason, McKinney missed the entire campaign with a torn ACL, but the Colts kept him on for use in 2013. Unfortunately, a few days after camp began, McKinney was right back on the injured reserve list.
The Colts would later release him with an injury settlement.
After passing a physical workout this summer, McKinney got another chance with the Colts, but his likelihood of making the roster is slim. Josh Chapman is the starting nose tackle for Indianapolis, and Montori Hughes has been getting second-team snaps.
The Colts want to develop Hughes, and so far, it seems like he has the clear edge. The only thing that would save McKinney, ironically, is an injury. Sure, he's a veteran at a position where the Colts have little veteran experience, but he's a veteran who hasn't played in two years and was a backup at best when he did play.
Chance of being cut: 90%
ILB Kelvin Sheppard
Last season, Kelvin Sheppard finished the year with a minus-10.7 grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the second-worst grade of any Indianapolis Colt defender. Sheppard, the object of a trade sending Jerry Hughes to Buffalo, was simply not good in 2013 and isn't likely to take measured steps forward.
That being said, most fans would like for better options to present themselves in this year's camp.
On some level, that situation has occurred. Henoc Muamba, the former CFL star, has played well in camp and is getting snaps with the second team. With him, along with rookie Andrew Jackson and second-year Colt Josh McNary, there is enough depth at inside linebacker to let Sheppard find a new home.
But, McNary has been hurt over the last few days of camp and hasn't practiced. Jackson apparently has not stood out and is practicing with the third team.
While Sheppard has struggled, his experience in the league, especially compared to the rest of the young linebackers, may be worth keeping around. For Sheppard to lose his job, Jackson needs to step up and be someone the Colts can trust. Right now, that's not the case.
Chance of being cut: 30%
S Mike Adams
Coming into training camp, Mike Adams was one of the favorites to start alongside LaRon Landry at safety. Adams' starting experience outweighed that of any Colt, and even at 33, it was thought that he still had the legs and mind to stay on top of the Colts' paper-thin depth chart.
But through a week of training camp, Adams has not been a primary safety on the first team, even with Landry out. Instead, it's fan-favorite Delano Howell and special-teams extraordinaire Sergio Brown who are getting first-team reps, with Adams and Colt Anderson playing with the second team.
If Brown and Howell are legitimately ahead of him, Adams is the fourth safety at best. Throw in the fact that Anderson is one of the team's top gunners so far, according to SB Nation's Josh Wilson, and you get a scenario where Adams could feasibly not be a Colt in September.
But, Adams did get a few reps mixed in with the first team on Wednesday, and I imagine he'll be phased in more and more as training camp goes on. Brown and Howell both know the system, which is a significant edge over the veteran. Howell is still the current favorite to start next to Landry, but Adams' stock is rising rather than falling.
Chance of being cut: 20%
FB Stanley Havili
Injuries can be devastating for fringe roster players. While Stanley Havili would not have been considered "fringe" going into the season, a lingering shoulder injury is pushing him that direction.
The Colts placed Havili on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list going into training camp, where he's been ever since. Havili is reportedly still recovering from a shoulder injury incurred against New England in the playoffs last year, and in his stead have come two young fullbacks.
Mario Harvey is an ex-linebacker who has been praised effusively this offseason and is seeing first-team reps with Havili injured. Cam White is a rookie from Hillsdale College, but the real story here is Harvey.
With Havili out, Harvey is getting a chance to assert himself as a starting-caliber fullback (as much as any fullback is worth starting, that is). Even before training camp began, Harvey and Havili were known to be the two guys on the roster fighting for that starting fullback spot. Considering Havili's struggles as a lead blocker last season, his spot on the roster was never guaranteed.
With Havili's continued absence, Harvey continues to get his name noticed, and Havili moves closer and closer to an injury settlement.
Chance of being cut: 50%